Five questions: Minecorp

Mark Lacey started his mining safety business over six years ago, and planned for exactly the amount of growth Minecorp has experienced. But now comes the transition from a small to medium-sized business.

When you were first starting out, what was the biggest challenge you faced?

It was definitely human resources – getting the right people. It’s funny because when you ask that sort of question today it’s changing every month. Six months ago, I would have had a different opinion about what human resources involves than I do now. Because in small business you think about what you’ve got to pay someone, then as the business grows bigger and their responsibilities grow, and as such you have to pay them more. This is obviously in line with growth.

Having started the business six years ago, did you imagine you would be where you are now?

Yes, I did. That’s what I planned to do. I only planned to here, so we’re now planning the next growth stage.

What does that involve?

There’s a lot of heartache and hard work at the moment because the operational and organizational structure is changing rapidly as we keep putting people on.

We’ve gone from a small business where we started with two people, then we got to six, then we got to eight, then we got to 12. Today we’re at 62 and that’s employed people, so that’s not the directors that are involved, or the casual CFO, or the accountant who’s here all the time.

Now we see the accountant every month without fail because we have a new structure to trial, or we have new software implementations and it’s an amazing learning curve. The actual setting up of the operational structure, or picking a task, or being delegated the task that best suits your skillset, that’s the hardest thing.

Anyone in small business is so set in their ways that they think ‘well, no, I’ll do that. They plan to answer the phones, sweep the floor and sell the product. But you have to find what suits your skill set best, get the operational structure, sort the organizational structure and go ‘that’s my role’.

What was the motivation to grow to a medium-sized business?

The motivation was very simple – it was driven by happy customers, which meant product demand, but secondly, it was the initiation from management to embark on a very big business plan through our accountant. So [this involved] the structural format, so we could get the footprint worked out and then start to analyze it and then work on the financial business plan.

How important has the website been to your business?

It’s been a very big part of our business. Without electronic media, we would be a long way behind. It lets us get stuff to market quickly, so as a new product comes out we can say to people go online and have a look, or upload a photo and we’ll have a look at it. But we have a lot to do there. We’ve got a lot happening in that area as well.

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